I was down in the Cayman Islands last week with my wife and baby daughter, both of whom must be obeyed at all times, enjoying a little R&R on the beach. I am not a pretty sight in a swimsuit, I can tell you, although you will be glad to know I opted for a voluminous pair of baggies, rather than the old banana hammock, marble bag, grape smuggler, or whatever you want to call those despicable spandex loincloths which are so popular with the big-willied continental types that we all love to laugh at and secretly despise.
Good Lord, that was a little more than I had intended to share with you, but let’s press on regardless, shall we? So anyway, I’m lying there like some albino manatee with a tanned face and flippers, hoping to avoid the ocean altogether, for fear of being harpooned by a passing Japanese trawler, when I am, horror of horrors, recognized by a tanned and buff stranger in, wouldn’t you know it, a snakeskin posing pouch. Before this man opens his mouth, I hate him, his ancestors, and any offspring he might have. I have issues here, ok?
“I thought you’d be at St. Andrews,” says Mr.Look-at-my-sausage.
“No, that’s a Disney telecast,” I said dryly, looking at his sausage.
“Oh yeah, Johnny Miller and Gary McCord … those guys, huh?”
“Yeah, those guys, and John Madden.”
“Whoah, no kiddin’, he’s doin’ golf now?”
So I look at him over my sunglasses, and he figures it out. He knows that I know that he only stopped here to look at my wife, who is the most beautiful woman on the beach, and is wearing even less spandex than him. The fact that he recognized me seemed at the time to be an excuse to loiter, but not any more. Like most iron pumpers, he is 5-foot-4 on a thick rug, and I know I can barge him into the tide and drown him in cellulite.
“Hey, enjoy the rest of your holiday,” he says, and minces off. Satisfied that I am still the dominant male, I go back to being only mildly pissed off.
I guess it’s due to the fact that I’ve spent most of my life squinting into the sun, but I have a really low threshold of sunbathing. I get antsy really quickly. So during the course of the vacation, I found myself making frequent visits to the old gogglebox, and listening to the dulcet tones of Strange and Alliss and co., whom I thought did a great job.
What a rare treat it was to see the Old Course play as it did. Bump and run, dunch and trundle, hop, skip, and jump. Players reading the fairways 50 yards short of the greens. Bunkers with gravitational pull, and the extraordinary beauty of the links at dusk, when the swales and hollows are cloaked in shadow, and mineshaft darkness fills the sandy craters. I adore St. Andrews. There are more spectacular courses in golf, but none has the enigmatic mystery, the sensual lure, or the hallowed graveyard aura of the first, and the greatest of them all. I remember every shot I ever hit there, and I hit quite a few.
Some will say that the scoring was too low, the course too easy for the modern game. But the truth is, Tiger didn’t win by playing the modern game; he played the ancient game, along the ground, magically transforming himself into half man, half sheep, all brilliance. A great golf course is a canvas upon which the great player can display his artistry, and we are lucky enough to be witnessing a renaissance in our sport. If the golfing gods exist, surely the golf equivalent of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel will never be altered. Fortunately, the R&A seem to be of the same opinion.